Domhnall Gleeson Teases Writing and Producing “Frank of Ireland” While Acting as Doofus
Domhnall Gleeson’s latest character is Doofus. Doofus looks up to his elder brother Frank, a 32-year-old “manchild” who exhibits classic signs of arrested development and lives with his parents as a failed musician. This surefire recipe for duo disaster is the premise of Domhnall and Brian Gleeson’s latest television show, Frank of Ireland.
Frank is the title character of the show for good reason, Domhnall Gleeson explained. For years, he and his brother had wanted to write something together and decided on something comedic in nature because they both “really enjoy trying to be funny together.” Along with their childhood friend and Domhnall’s previous writing partner, Michael Moloney, the trio created the character Frank and from there, the series was born.
We took a long time figuring out what kind of show we wanted it to be. We came up with the character of Frank, and for Brian to play Frank, pretty early – the first thing was the character, and everything grew from there. It took a long time; it took us like five years to get to set because it was our first time doing it.
While Domhnall described Frank as a “13-year-old personality that’s never grown up,” his character, Doofus, is slightly different. He sees Doofus as a nine-year-old who’s “more naive and more stupid and doesn’t know as much.”
Doofus is just blind to it. Doofus looks at [Frank] and sees the coolest man in the world. […] When you were a kid, your older cousin was the coolest person in the world. You’re like, ‘I want to be like that. I think that person is cooler than the members of Oasis, I’m pretty sure.’ That’s the way Doofus sees Frank. And that’s why he’s so happy to be allowed this friend, and he allows himself to be treated like crap, unfortunately.
While the series draws inspiration from many well-known films such as Dances with Wolves, Home Alone, Memento, and Misery, Domhnall saw many parallels between himself and another famous actor, Ryan Gosling, especially when it comes to his character’s outrageously hilarious name.
In the film ‘The Place Beyond [t]he Pines,’ [Ryan Gosling] has a tattoo of a tear on his face. […] He said to the director, ‘I absolutely do not want to have it there; it looks really stupid.’ And the director said, ‘No, if the character had that done, he would think it was cool and then he would have to live with it for the rest of his life. So that’s what you’re going to have to do. You’re going to have to just make a part of your character that you regret.’ And I think with Doofus, there’s a similar thing with the name. It was funny early on, [and] then I thought, ‘What the hell are we doing? I don’t want to play a character called Doofus — that’s insane!’ And then I guess it just became part of who he was.
Other than acting, the off-screen and on-screen brothers share the writing and producing credits. Domhnall admitted that juggling the myriad of responsibilities was incredibly tough, even though he thought that he was prepared for the challenge.
It was a lot. It was a lot, and I was not prepared for it. […] I’d done a show previously called ‘Run,’ that Vicky Jones was show runner [sic] of, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and all these amazing people involved. But I had seen how much work it took to make something. And even having seen it, I couldn’t have expected it. It was a lot. It was a lot.
The sense of humor is specific. And I don’t know if it will be for everybody, but it makes us laugh a lot. It was for us. And all you can do is make something that makes you laugh. […] If you give the show a chance, it’ll grow on you. Because I think Brian’s performance and the performances with Brian are so wonderful. And I think it’s funny, and all we wanted to do was make it funny.
Frank of Ireland premieres on Channel 4 and Amazon Prime this Friday.